Liturgical Music

The Music Seminar devotes its sessions to discussion of liturgy and ritual music 1) through papers by members of the group, 2) around issues, projects and studies about music in rites and 3) by examining new and emerging resources, i.e., hymn collections and musical settings for liturgy.

Convener

Heather Josselyn-Cranson, OSL
heather.josselyn-cranson@regiscollege.edu

Seminar Report 2020

Convener

Heather Josselyn-Cranson, OSL, ThD, Sister Margaret William McCarthy Endowed Chair of Music, Regis College, Weston, MA

Members in Attendance

Deborah Appler, Mary Fran Fleischaker, Chad Fothergill, Phil Ganir, Rawn Harbor, Kim Harris, Alan Hommerding, Martin Jean, Heather Josselyn-Cranson, Jason McFarland, Mike McMahon, Jonathan Ottaway, Anthony Ruff OSB, Daniel Schlorff, Jonathan Tan, John Weit, Cynthia Wilson

Description of Work

The Liturgical Musical Seminar began its work in 2020 with Jason McFarland facilitating a consideration of the creation of a joint project or publication. There was great interest expressed in this idea, and members of the seminar will continue to sharpen the focus of this work over the coming year.

On Friday afternoon, our seminar met jointly with the Advent Project Seminar. To the members of both groups, Heather Josselyn-Cranson presented a study entitled “The Sounds of Advent: Musical Means Behind a Seasonal Aesthetic.” This study explored the musical differences between Advent hymn tunes and hymn tunes used with non-Advent hymn texts, including differences of texture, key, mode, and date of composition. Members of both seminars then held a singing session to explore new Advent texts and music written by David Bjorlin, Alan J. Hommerding, Heather Josselyn-Cranson, and Jonathan Kohrs. Advent Project Seminar founder William H. Petersen presented a paper entitled “Hidden Treasures: Discovering Unusual Advent Music.” In the paper, Petersen conducted an analysis of three hymn texts that are not usually included in the Advent sections of hymnals: “O Day of God Drawn Nigh,” “Lord Christ When First you Came to Earth,” and “Joy to the World.”

At our next session, Jason McFarland led members of the Liturgical Music Seminar in a discussion of chapter seven of Kevin Irwin’s revised Context and Text that includes substantial attention to the role of music within the liturgy. The discussion considered the use of antiphons rather than hymns in the mass, the growing multicultural reality of the church, and Irwin’s liturgical-theological method as demonstrated in his study of the antiphons for the season of Lent.

On Saturday, we shared one of our sessions with the Medieval Liturgy Seminar. Anthony Ruff led a practicum on singing medieval chant. Following this experience, Ruff, Christopher Hodkinson, and Rebecca Maloy contributed to a panel discussion on the question of the extent to which plainchant can be understood to express emotion, and the possibility of modern chant performers being able to understand the emotion that plainchant conveyed to its earlier singers.

Kim Harris presented the final paper to the seminar, entitled “The Emergence of Black Roman Catholic Liturgical Music: A Transnational Conversation.” In her paper she explored the history of Black Catholic music in the United States, including early twentieth-century performance of plainchant in Latin at St. Augustine’s in Washington D.C., Catholic roots within the Negro Spiritual tradition, and the groundbreaking compositions of Fr. Clarence Joseph Rivers.

Other Work and Plans for the Future

The Seminar will continue to work on a joint project or publication.

Seminar Report 2019

Convener

Steven R. Janco, Director of the Program for Music and Liturgy at Alverno College in Milwaukee, which offers a summers-and-online master’s degree, as well as training and professional development for liturgical ministers and pastoral musicians.

Members in Attendance

Christopher Ángel, Carl Bear, Emily R. Brink, Jon Gathje, Jonathan Hehn, Alan Hommerding, Steven R. Janco, Martin Jean, Heather Josselyn-Cranson, Jason McFarland, Troy Messenger, Anthony Ruff, OSB

Visitors in Attendance

Phillip Ganir, Rawn Harbor, J. Michael McMahon, Christina Ronzio, David Albert Williams

Description of Work

  • Carl Bear offered a presentation entitled, “Creating a List of Ecumenical Core Hymns: Issues and Initial Observations.” Carl’s work began with a consulting project for a new hymnal. Members and visitors offered comments and suggestions at Carl’s invitation.
  • Heather Josselyn-Cranson offered a presentation incorporating insights from music therapy entitled, “The Intersection of Music, Health and Liturgy.”
  • Alan Hommerding drew upon his own experience as a hymn text writer in his presentation, “Rhythms and Rhymes: Exploring Possibilities for Structuring Hymnic ” The presentation involved sharing, discussion, and singing examples from Alan’s forthcoming hymn text collection, Breath of Christ (WLP, 2019).
  • Steve Janco discussed the development of the curriculum for the new M.A. in Music and Liturgy at Alverno College in Milwaukee. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the summer-and-online program focuses on the breadth of competencies needed for music ministry in a culturally diverse church that sings music of many styles and eras.
  • During the morning of Saturday, January 5, the Liturgical Music Seminar met jointly with the Liturgical Hermeneutics Seminar to discuss local worshiping communities as communities of musical Ron Anderson, who edited the October-December 2018 issue of Liturgy devoted to the topic, provided an introduction and reported on his experience as editor of the seven articles the issue. An unstructured, interesting and fruitful discussion followed.

Other Work and Plans for the Future

Saturday afternoon members of the seminar spent time discussing the work of the seminar and possibilities for the future. Steve Janco stepped down as convener after two years in the role. After some discussion about the role and responsibilities of the convener, members invited Heather Josselyn-Cranson to serve as the next convener of the seminar. She graciously accepted.